A-K Valley notebook: Long wait for Leechburg, Freeport softball

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Friday, May 18, 2018 | 11:03 PM


Freeport and Leechburg originally planned to play their WPIAL softball playoff openers Thursday.

They did get on the field but for a scrimmage against each other instead of their quarterfinal opponents.

As it has for much of the season, weather created havoc in the first week of the WPIAL baseball and softball playoffs — especially in softball, where several postponements Monday led to Wednesday makeups.

Because of weather issues, the WPIAL moved the quarterfinals to Monday, meaning teams with first-round byes like Freeport and Leechburg will go more than 10 days without playing a game before their playoff openers.

Freeport coach Sam Ross, whose team will play Waynesburg in the Class 3A quarterfinals, said he scheduled scrimmages against Highlands, Leechburg and Knoch to help keep the team in game shape.

“Overall, we're keeping busy and trying to keep the energy up, try to keep what we had in the regular season,” Ross said.

Six Alle-Kiski Valley softball teams will play quarterfinal games Monday: Kiski Area in Class 5A; Freeport and Burrell in 3A; and Leechburg, Riverview and St. Joseph in A. All but Freeport and Leechburg played first-round games this week. Those two hope their practices and scrimmages will mean they won't be too rusty Monday.

“They're getting pretty anxious (to play) right now, actually,” Ross said. “We want to go. We want to get on here and see what we're made of.”

First might

Riverview and St. Joseph left little doubt about the outcome of their WPIAL Class A playoff openers. They were effectively over by the end of the first inning.

No. 8 St. Joseph scored 12 runs in the first inning of its game against No. 9 Western Beaver on Monday, leading the way to a 13-0 victory in five innings. Serena Edgar cracked a grand slam, and Anna Swierczewski doubled twice and drove in three runs. The Spartans sent 15 batters to the plate and scored all 12 of their runs before recording two outs.

Two days later, Riverview did its Section 3-A rival one better by putting together a 13-run first inning on the way to a 21-0, three-inning win over Quigley Catholic.

The No. 7 Raiders sent 19 batters to the plate in the inning, and Katelyn Davis doubled twice.

Section won

The WPIAL didn't award Section 1-3A teams any byes when it released the baseball playoff brackets last week.

No matter. The section did plenty of damage in the first round.

Section co-champions Burrell and Valley, third-place finisher Steel Valley and fourth-place team Shady Side Academy advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals after winning their first-round games.

The top seeds in the Class 3A bracket went, in order, to the top three teams from Section 2-3A — Riverside, Avonworth and South Side — and Section 3-3A champ Brownsville.

The Section 1-3A teams have a chance to prove the committee wrong in the quarterfinals. Valley will play Brownsville, Burrell will play South Side, Shady Side Academy will play Avonworth and Steel Valley will play Riverside.

Kirilloff on a tear

Alex Kirilloff's career-long hitting streak ended Wednesday, but not much is slowing down the former Plum star.

The 20-year-old outfielder and 2016 Minnesota Twins first-round pick is on a tear for the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels, batting .311 with six home runs and 30 RBIs through Thursday.

Before going 0 for 3 in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday against Quad Cities, Kirilloff held a 14-game hitting streak, including 13 consecutive games with an extra-base hit. He hit .386 with eight doubles, three triples, three homers and 12 RBIs during his hitting streak.

Despite missing the 2017 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, Kirilloff ranks in the top 10 in the Midwest League in hits (41), doubles (13), triples (3), homers, RBIs, total bases (78) and slugging percentage (.591).

On the trail

• Burrell senior Ethan Awes will wrestle next season for Thiel, becoming the third member of the Bucs' senior class to wrestle in college. Awes shook off an early-season injury to return for the PIAA team tournament and individual postseason. He finished third at the Section 3-AA tournament and fifth at WPIALs, compiling a 15-12 record.

• Burrell's Brittany Dunn competes in two sports in high school, and she'll continue that by pursuing basketball and softball at Pitt-Greensburg. Dunn averaged 11.8 points and 10.7 rebounds in basketball and is the ace pitcher and top run producer for the softball team, which will play a WPIAL quarterfinal game Monday.

• Highlands senior Shawn Erceg will play basketball for Chatham. The 6-foot-6 big man led a balanced Golden Rams offensive attack, averaging 12.8 points per game, and also pulled down 7.2 rebounds per contest to help Highlands reach the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals and the second round of the PIAA tournament.

• St. Joseph basketball standout Alex Jones signed with Lycoming. Jones helped the Spartans reach the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA playoffs as a junior and the WPIAL quarterfinals this season. Capable of playing multiple positions on the floor, Jones averaged 17 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 4.7 assists per game as a senior and reached 1,000 career points. She was a Valley News Dispatch All-Star and the West team MVP at the Cager Classic.

• The offers are coming in fast and furious for Shady Side Academy junior football star Skyy Moore, a New Kensington native. Albany, Columbia, Fordham and Robert Morris became the latest schools to offer Moore, bringing his total to eight, all at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

• Freeport's Emily Wolfe will play soccer at La Roche. A starting defender, Wolfe helped the Yellowjackets post nine shutouts on their way to their second consecutive Section 2-2A championship and a berth in the WPIAL semifinals.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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